The Program of Academic Exchange (PAX) is looking for local families to host foreign exchange students this upcoming school year.
“There’s no cost for it. The only requirement is that the host family has to ensure that the child has their own bed, their own study area, that they have food, and that they have housing such as water and utilities,” said Christopher Alexander, a PAX program coordinator based in Meridian.
The exchange students will be between 15 and 18 years old. Alexander explained that hosting an exchange student doesn’t mean spending more money.
“Very often I hear from families, ‘That’s going to make my water bill high, or I don’t have the money to feed the student.' But from experience -- I host students and do the coordinating for them – I’ve found that your water bill doesn’t go up, your electric bill doesn’t go up, your food cost doesn’t go up.”
He said that nearly a dozen Meridian families have hosted exchange students in the past.
“Last year in Meridian, we had three exchange students that were at Meridian High School. One of those students, in a three-week period after arriving in August, was elected to the homecoming court. Another of those students was put on the yearbook staff.”
Alexander said the student exchange program is way to promote diplomacy and understanding across nations. He encourages all interested families to sign up to become hosts.
“By being a host family, you are kind of an ambassador for America, just as much as that student is an ambassador for their country. You, as an American, are telling their country, ‘We’re willing to let your students come. We’re willing to take care of them because we do want to have a working relationship with you at a national level.’”
Families from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are encouraged to apply. More information can be found at pax.org.